Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American families!
Many of you will know that Thanksgiving is essentially a harvest festival. The first recorded Thanksgiving in America is generally believed to have occurred in 1621 when a group of 53 Plymouth Pilgrims celebrated a good harvest with 90 Native Americans. The festival was a distinctly Christian affair though of course, interestingly, all the major religions have some sort of harvest or thanksgiving celebration in their traditions.
One of the things that is very striking about the Thanksgiving tradition in America for me, although it is by no means unique to their tradition, is the tradition of sharing Thanksgiving with family. Americans head home for Thanksgiving in far greater numbers than they do for Christmas and many of them travel great distances across their vast country to do so. And I think the reason for this is that one of the most important things that they feel the need to “give thanks” for is each other. Children especially (and here I mean children of all ages!) feel a strong sense of duty to be present in the homes and at the tables of their parents on Thanksgiving. Perhaps this is about reconnecting with loved ones, strengthening family bonds and re-charging spiritually, all of which is especially important in our frenetic modern society where family members disperse to the far corners of the country, or even the world? Or perhaps it is about honouring parents and recognizing the sacrifices that they made to raise children and provide them with the best possible opportunities. Probably it is about all of these things…… and that can’t be bad.
The observant amongst you will have noticed the growing prevalence of the word “family” in some of our marketing materials since I arrived at KISU and this is no accident! In our families we should feel our most loved and most deeply understood- it is when we are with our families that we feel safest and most confident. And each of us, I am sure, feels that there is something unique about our family’s identity, something special and shared- not always easy to articulate, but strong nevertheless. And all of this is exactly what a great school should aspire to for its children. I am not saying necessarily that KISU is a “great” school yet but I gave an assembly to the whole student body recently entitled “Catching Fire” because that is what I believe is happening in our learning community at the moment. Certainly when I go to events like the Secondary Drama performance or the Y5/6 Production, or when I watch Year 10 students confidently teaching computer skills to our ancillary team or read about the fantastic experiences our children have on their Outdoor Education trips, it is clear to me that we have much to give thanks for!